I wanted to share a few of my experiences from yesterday – the state’s holy day of hot dogs and flag waving.
After posting a lot of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams quotes on fb/settingsun, I had a few friends come over to play some shuffleboard. If you are unaware of the game, it is basically an activity where you slide pucks across the court, hopefully into the top of the triangle (or pyramid) at the other side. In order to score the most amount of points and win the game, you have to knock your opponent out of the way.
Shuffleboard is an interesting study and it fits in well with my ongoing talk of retirement from the conspiracy “game,” which I obviously have not yet done. This game is very simple and straightforward. It’s a good metaphor for (or underlying principle of) all of the other games that humans like to play.
I’ve seen many people on Cape Cod this weekend playing such kinds of games in order to occupy their time and derive some kind of enjoyment. I partook in a few of these games myself – like lawn darts and pool. I’m pretty good at games and often win. I like team games sometimes, but the more players and fans (and endorsements) that get added to the mix, the less exciting the game becomes for me because the losses are distributed amongst the players and observers, the matches are fixed, and the players often do not play with heart.
Some people seem to derive great joy out of big wins in these situations, relishing in the glory of victory, but I have never really felt a great amount of satisfaction from such things. For me, it has been always been, “Okay, what’s next?” This type of mindset has propelled me through life, striving to live a fiery life of brilliance, while only desiring a modicum of stability and security.
Games can be fun, but I really only enjoy ones that mean something. I want the games I watch and play to be something of an artistic expression, representing a deeper and more universal struggle. I may have found one such game yesterday. Instead of watching fireworks with the rich, white folk of Cape Cod on the 4th of July, I decided to witness the game of fireball at the Wampanoag Pow Wow. As the sun went down, a few of us split with the rest of the party and made our way to the game. It was quite the setting- with flaming posts at both sides of the playing field as men in a variety of garb readied themselves for the painful, but exciting experience that was soon to follow.
Fireball is basically like soccer, but the players are encouraged to use their hands.
And the ball is also on fire. All of the players will end up burning their hands during the game. It is required and referenced as their “medicine.” Before even coming into the playing field, the players have in mind a certain person who is suffering. They believe that by taking pain into themselves, they are able to take away some of the pain from their loved ones and help them heal.
No photography of any kind was allowed during the game. This was strictly enforced. As the game got under way, it was very exciting as the teams scored against each other. There were some amazing carries, some awesome throws, and some big saves, but at the end of the match it was really not about who won or lost. All of the men of the tribe who participated were able to prove themselves as courageous, brave warriors capable of withstanding great pain.
Interestingly enough, two of the guys I was with last night were the same guys who convinced me to see the ridiculous (hilariously bad) movie Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. (see Oz/Klein as Nash)
One of my friends is a big tall firefighter (and a Wampanoag) with whom I once played football. The other is a fast, short veteran who is one of the luckiest men I have met. He is also able to win the affections of many women. He is very good at his game, but it seems like a curse sometimes.
After the match, we headed to the local Raw Bar, which is a place where no one is allowed to use a cell phones. They have some strong rum punches there and I got a little drunk. The name of the bar backwards is “rab war” and also has an obvious connection to Ra. Interestingly enough, I heard rumors that Lady Gaga had been around there the day before. Maybe I’m being stalked by shim 😉
Anyhow, we headed back to a back deck/ bonfire gathering for some margaritas and beers after the bar. I sometimes flirt with some women, but only a few really ever strike my fancy. Well, there was a lady there who actually does, but she is also desired by my short friend who sometimes thinks he can lay claim to hordes of women as his own. As we were leaving, he “jokingly” told me to get my hands off of the woman in question so I lightly slapped him across his face, but I hit his left ear. This is the same ear of his I punctured a few years back after he tried to get me to hit him, which I did, but with an open palm. He lost hearing for quite some time and this second offense did not please him.
During the car ride back, we were exchanging some “junk talk” and decided to get out and settle things with some good ol’ physical violence (something I like to avoid) outside on my front lawn at about 2:30 AM. Being a bit larger than him, and a more experienced grappler, I was able to take him down quickly with a reverse choke. He tapped out, but I didn’t realize and I had to be stopped by our friends who were observing. We both got up unsatisfied and decided to go at it again. After some feints and taunts, I got popped in my mouth with a good right. I stumbled down for a second and then charged him, tackling him to the ground.
Technically, I won both bouts since he called for stoppage both times. Later I would say that we both lost, but I don’t know if this is really the case. After stopping the second time, he inspected my lip to see if I needed to get stitches. We both decided I didn’t, so he left and I went inside to look at the blood dripping from my mouth in the mirror. For some reason, it made me feel very alive and excited. I was not very upset about what happened and felt very little anger, especially after speaking to my friend later and hearing his apology for hitting me like that. My lip is swollen and ugly and his eye and neck are not in perfect shape, but I think neither of us suffered permanent damage.
Fighting is serious. If we had not controlled ourselves, we could have possibly killed each other. It is a bit scary to think of in hindsight, but I think there are valuable lessons that can be learned from the fire that erupts from such friction.
What do you think? Am I just another “devolved” male who must prove his worth through physical domination? Could there there be some merit to this dangerous game? Is it an effective way of solving problems so that they don’t fester for months or years? To what are you more inclined – fight or flight? Are those the only two options?